Study on Forest Management

STUDY ON FOREST MANAGEMENT

BY PEOPLE

IN

WESTERN GHATS

 

PEACEFUL SOCIETY

GOA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOREWORD

 

The forests in Western Ghats represents the most fragile ecosystems in the world. The tropical forests all over the world and those in Western Ghats are getting destroyed at a faster rate. There are various schemes and afforestation programmes undertaken by the government to preserve the ecosystems in Western Ghats. However, a narrowadhoc approach, without active participation of the people living near the forests is bound to be ineffective. This study looks into the recent approach of Joint Forest Planning and Management (JFPM) and its impact on the local people. This is an attempt to analyse the factors that are essential to involve people in afforestation of Western Ghats. In addition to the analysis, the study documents cases of spontaneous efforts of people in management of forests in Western Ghats. Thus, these efforts indicate the motivation of people in conservation and regeneration of forests in Western Ghats. This also shows how people can successfully manage the forest resources.

We are grateful to Shri. Kalanand Mani, Executive Secretary, Peaceful Society for providing valuable guidance to conduct the study. His insight and experience of Save Western Ghats Movement has been invaluable help in completing this study.

September 30, 1994

 

 

CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION

1.1 General

1.2 Forestry Programme and Uttara Kannada

II INSTITUTIONAL PROCESS

2.1 The review of Government order (Karnataka)

2.2 JFPM (Joint Forest Management) Process

III. VILLAGE FOREST COMMITTEES

3.1 Formation

3.2 Peoples Participation

3.3 Women’s Participation

IV. THE IMPACT  

4.1 On People

4.2 On Livestock

4.3 On Ecology

V. VFC’s ANALYSIS

5.1      General

5.2      Keravalli

5.3      Gublegadde

5.4      Talgadde

5.5      Hitlahalli

5.6      Malvadi

 

VI        WESTERN GHATS: REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE

6.1   Hill region

6.2   Coastal region

6.3   Coastal Ghats

6.4   The plains (Haliyal)

6.5   The plains (Joida)

VII.      SPONTANEOUS FOREST MANAGEMENT BY PEOPLE

7.1       General

7.2       Case Study: Halkar

7.3       Case Study: Hunsur

 

 STUDY ON FOREST MANAGEMENT BY PEOPLE IN WESTERN GHATS

INTRODUCTION

1.1         Western Ghats represents one of the most fragile ecosystems in South India. These mountain range runs parallel to the coastal region in Karnataka. They are the catchment areas of important rivers like Tungabhadra, Kaveri and Krishna. These rivers provide waters for irrigation to the dry regions of deccan plateau. 1Similarly the rivers like Sharavati and Kali provide a major source of power for the state (Karnataka). The forests in Western Ghats comprises of tropical evergreen to decedious types. The increase in population (which has doubted over past 30 years), increased demand for timber and land for agriculture has put enormous pressure on the forests of Western Ghats. The depletion of forests has attracted the attention of foreign governments. One of the response is from Overseas Development Administration, U.K.(ODA).ODA in collaboration with Karnataka Forest Department (KFD) has drafted the Western Ghat Forestry and Environment Project (WGFEP), Karnataka (1991). The process of drafting the proposal started in 1988 and eventually the document (1991) was accepted as final project proposal.

1.1.1    The major objective of the WGFEP is “to achieve sustainability in face of numerous pressures on the forest resources”. These pressures as identified in the project proposal are; logging, head loading, livestock and forest fires. The fundamental instrument, according to the proposal, to deliver the sustainability is Joint forest Planning and Management (JFPM). The process of managing Forest resources is participation with the people is in accordance with the forest policy and the circular of Central Government (1990) calling all the states to form village level institutions to regenerate and afforest waste lands and to protect the forests through sharing the benefits. Such mechanism to involve people in management of forest resources was called JFPM.

1.1.2   The objectives of the project are as follows: (1991)

A. To maintain the ecological balance and environmental stable of Western Ghats, to preserve their unique flora and fauna and to increase understanding of them.

B.   To rehabilitate and protect the major environmental resources represented by western Ghat forests.

c.   To assure the sustainability of living standards of those people whose livelyhoods currently derive, in whole or in part from the forest.

D.   To assure the sustained yield of all categories of produce proper to the natural forest, so as to secure sound economic welfare for future generations.

In order to achieve these objectives the strategy is as follows:

I.         Assisting institutional development of in KFD.

II.                Ensuring poor people, women, tribals and other disadvantaged groups who are substantially dependent on the forests are ” not worse, and preferably better off.

III.              Minimising further loss of forest cover and resources, and the service they provide.

IV.              Increasing understanding of the western ghat ecosystem.

1.1.3          The project proposal has laid out the objectives that have no relevance to the different causes identified for decrease in the forest cover. It has identified logging, head loading, grazing of livestock and forest fires. While recognising these causes as main factor for degradation of forest resources, the objectives does not reflect the concern to address these immediate causes. Thus the project objective is set in a vaccum, ignoring the real situations. All the four objectives is a jugglery of technical terms and all of them mean the same. The process is entirely dependent upon one agency i.e., of KFD. This dependency on a single institution to deliver the goods in a complex socio economic situation is a high expectation.

1.1.4          The process:

The KFD and ODA claim that the whole project is process oriented -rather than target oriented. It envisages the implementation of the programme through JFPM and thereby initiating institutional changes in KFD. The expectation of changing the relationship between people and KFD within a short span of 6 years (project time frame) is a herculean task. The relationship of people with KFD goes back to the colonial era. The post independence period of forestry programme has reinforced the policing role of KFD. Under such harsh realities, it is doubtful whether we can except changes at institutional level during the short time span of the implementation of the project. However, it is a rationale idea to change the attitude of KFD so as to initiate a process of working in cooperation with people.

1.4.1.1   In order to implement the project the forest area has been classified in to five zones. They are:

I     Core Zone-Ecologically important areas
II    Main Zone-Main forest without dwellers

(Potential for commercial exploitation)

III   Main Zone- Main forest with pockets of dwellers

IV   Boundary Zone- Edge of forests, near settlements

(mostly degraded land)

V   Outside forest- Near settlements, Common land, or

Revenue land.

Though the project proposal emphasises that the main thrust is on JFPM, by classifying the available forest areas into zones the whole programme gets narrowed down to zone IV. The JFPM will be implemented in this zone and peoples suggestion may be (?) sought to manage other zones. However, JFPM activities are restricted to zone IV. This classification into zones is a very complicated process and in reality it will confuse the forest dwellers. There are apprehensions that the actual zoning process may lead to uprooting of the marginal farmers and tribal groups, affecting the poorest people.

1.1.4.2   The project proposal also mentions about role of NGOs in building NGOs up JFPM process. The KFD wants NGOs to act as middlemen between forest department and the community. The project proposal also mentions of a separate funding process to NGOs to accelerate the formation of forest user groups. Thus, the project recognises the need to involve the NGOs at implementation stage. In reality the proposal wants NGOs to work as extension agents to aid the functioning of JFPM.

1.2              WGFP AND UTTARA KANNADA

The forest of Uttar Kanada is one of the major revenue earning regions of Karnataka. The project proposal (WGFEP) does not mention the criteria for selection of Uttara Kannada as the first circle in which the project activities are to be implemented. The project document states ‘Under the project, funds will be provided planting in those divisions of the project cycles lying within western Ghats area’. It seems the KFD and ODA wanted to start in the forest region and Uttara Kannada with 82 percent of land under forests was the obvious choice. KFD is the major employees providing jobs to thousands of people in the forestry sector, in this district.

1.2.1          Uttar Kannada has a long history of conflict over natural resources. In the early eighteenth century the Britishers took control of the region defeating Tippu Sultan (1890). However, the Dutch and Britishers were struggling to take control of the ‘factories’ (to process pepper) near the ports of Karwar and Honnavar. The region was well known for production of pepper. The Britishers concentrated on extraction of valuable teak from the forests. They took  control of the forest resources from the village communities. This led to conflict between people and the colonial rulers. The Britishers divided the forests into separate categories of Reserve forest, Protected Forests and Minor Forests. The best forests with high value ‘timber was classified as Reserve Forests which could be harvested by the government to earn revenue. Similarly, degraded forests near the villages was classified as ‘Minor Forests’ and given for use to people. The classification of forests in Uttara Kannada has intensified the conflict over resources. The same classification continued in the post independence period.

1.2.2       The colonial roots of forest policy was forcefully put in to practice in the post independence era.  Uttar Kanada with 82 percent under forests was labelled as ‘backward district’ .In order to eradicate the backwardness of the district forest base industries like paper, pulp and plywood factories were established. Large tracts of forests were leased out at concessional rates to these industries. Similarly the government clear felled natural forests and converted them into monoculture teak’ and ‘eucalyptus’ plantations. The history of KFD in the three decades after independence in Uttara Kannada has been the ruthless over exploitation of forest resources of the district. The villagers were a mute witness to the heavy logging activities.

1.2.3       Uttara Kannada has very meagre agricultural land. About lO percent of the land is cultivated in the district. The irony is, the population dependent on agriculture has almost doubled over past three decades but the cultivated area has remained stagnant. The agricultural system is entirely dependent on the forest resource The green leaves, dry leaves, grazing and water supply for crops is the outcome of well maintained forest ecosystem. However, as we have observed above (1.22) the forest policy and programmes have ignored the interest of farming community. Farmers and farming communities are constantly in conflict with forest department. The village or a hamlet in Uttara Kannada is situated in midst of forests. The farming activities like collection of dry leaves, green leaves, poles for building house and grazing is treated as activities that destroy forest resources. This view of KFD has reinforced its role as a policeman. This role has further widened the gap between forest department and the people. Livestock rearling is one of the subsidiary activities. Village people find that the available grasing land has been taken away by KFD for establishing monoculture plantations. The conflict over access and control over forest resources, have intensified in the recent past. It is in this background that one has to understand the implementation of WGFEP in Uttara Kannada.

1.2.4       Unfortunately the project proposal has ignored the background of the conflict over the resources, which exists in Uttara Kannada. The proposal says ‘Local people who are responsible for much of the biotic pressure on the forest must play a major role in the planning, management and protection of forest’ (proposal, page 4). It is in this environment of mutual distrust the KFD proposes to initiate the process of JFPM. The WGFEP states that it intends to bring ‘institutional changes in KFD which will change KFD’s relations with people who depend on forest’. In order to initiate joint activity with people the basic need is to establish a mutual trust among them. This is a pre condition before launching JFPM. The KFD officials have to understand the links between forestry and agriculture and how to help the farmer through JFPM. This holistic approach will pave way for cordial relationship between people and KFD. However, the project proposal has ignored is holistic approach.

1.2.5        The WGFEP was launched in Uttara Kannada during 1992-93. As the 1damental instrument of delivery of the programme is JFPM, the KFD surveyed 90 villages in Uttara Kannada district, out of which 40 have been identified as ‘priority villages’ £or JFPM activities.  Of these till May 1994 the KFD has formed VFCs (Village Forest Committees) in 51 Villages. The KFD and ODA claims that the PRA exercise has helped them to have rapport with people. In some villages micro plan has been drawn up by KFD. KFD claims to have consulted local people on designation and delineation of all forest zones in the project area. The KFD and ODA claim that JFPM emphasis is on the process than to meet the target. Learning from this experience of establishing JFPM the KFD is planning to bring out a ‘Implementation Manual for JFPM’ as a reference for the field work. Whatever the truth of these claims, the people saw a lot of activity of moving vehicles and publicity about ODA and JFPM in the local vernacular press.

II         INSTITUTIONAL PROCESS

2.1              As part of the institutional process to be introduced in KFD, the Government of Karnataka issued a Government order (G.O.) on ]’ 12/4/1993. This order empowers the KFD to implement the process of JFPM and to constitute Village Forest Committees (VFCs.) Under this order sharing of the benefits under JFPM is also spelled out as follows:

-50% to the Government (KFD)

-25% to Beneficiaries of VFCs

-25% to Village Development Fund.

The concept of sharing the produce is important. But in the process of formation of VFCs, the main motivation should be to allow peoples control over the resources. Undue emphasis given to sharing of the produce may attract people who are not using the forest resources, but the one who are eager to get share of economic gain. Thus, this cause of economic benefits may attract attention of people in the village who want to earn money through the plantation established by VFCs.

2.1.1          The G.O. clearly states that JFPM activities can be implemented in those areas where the canopy cover is less than 0.25 percent. Obliviously, the most degraded area is to be developed through JFPM process. This restriction means that KFD expects local people to in JFPM only to develop the degraded lands. The stake of people tempting control the forest area to meet the minimum biomass eds in the forest area is ruled out. This narrow approach of the state government defeats the purpose of ‘involving local people in management of forest resources’. KFD wants people to help them in afforesting degraded areas, but it is not willing to share the larger responsibilities of management of other forest areas.

2.1.2          The most important factor in the VFC is its Member secretary. According to the. G.O. the Forester (from KFD) is the Member Secretary of VFC. He has been given responsibilities to maintain books of accounts of VFC and Village Development Fund. He is also vested with power to keep all the records. Thus, the entire power is vested with the functionary of KFD. This gives total control to VFC to a forest official. Though the KFD says that for initial three years, it is essential that the department handles the VFC as it is in the stage of infancy. But by doing this, the KFD has taken away the initiative and creativity of people. It has made VFC as a passive tool in the hands of KFD functionary.

2.1.3          The most arbitrary powers are vested with the Secretary of VFC are as follows:

–     Secretary can recommend the termination of membership of Managing Committee members.

–     He can recommend temporary or permanent termination of membership if he finds that the member is not performing his role properly.

–     To terminate membership of VFC for life

–     On the recommendation of the member Secretary (Forester) the Range Forest Officer (RFO) can dismiss the VFC.

–     For all the penal rules mentioned above the appeal is only to a higher KFD official. The decision of this official is binging on the VFC and the members.

Vested with these arbitrary powers the KFD has taken the total control of VFC and even the members. Thus, it has made the mockery of grass roots democracy. The VFC, which consists of elected members from villagers, and who in turn elect Managing committee. Ignoring this aspect, the KFD has retained the powers of dismissing VFC and its members. Obviously, the KFD does not want any impartial suggestion of people. It wants the VFC and members who agree to their idea. This arbitrary powers defeats the, essence of JFPM as expressed in para (16) (i) of the annexure to the G.O. “VFCs should not become an extension of the Forest Department. But this shall be strong village bodies having functional antonomy”. A VFC can never function antonomusly with its secretary having the power to dismiss its members at will. At present the VFCs can function only if its members behave as an extension agents of KFD.

2.1.4           The G.O. has initiated the process of setting up of VFCs in Karnataka. The KFD officials admit that there are shortionings in the Act. They feel that necessary amendments will be made in future according to the need. Their opinion is to change the rules based on experiences. However, we feel that even to start a genuine process of JEPM the need is to give to manage forest resources. The ambiguity of the order is incentive to form VFCs.

The G.O. which was passed with the objective of involving peoples participation in management of forest resources has in fact given the sole responsibility of managing VFC, a village level institution in to the hands of KFD. In the present context the people have to play a mere passive role to support KFD. The changing institutional attitude can not come through the G.O.

2.2              At the institutional level, to implement JFPM activities a separate wing has been established at divisional level. Within this team responsibility of establishing rapport is assigned to one RFO(JFPM). He is to contact villagers and discuss the concepts of JEPM. Other KFD officials may, or may not take active interest in discussion with people. Obviously, the institutional change is narrowed down to JFPM team and within JFPM it is only one person who is to establish rapport and discuss with people. Implementation will be done by other officers. This division of role enables the KFD to maintain (its earlier role as policeman) the image in which it gets alienated from people. Thus, there is hardly any scope for wider changes at institutional level.

III        VFC: STRENGTH & WEAKNESS

3.1              Formation of VFC is an important milestone in the implementation of JFPM process. Ideally the KFD has envisaged the formation of VFC into various stages: they are-

I       visit to village

II      Introduction of JFPM idea to villagers

III     The necessity of VFC

IV     Formation of a committee of Promoters

V      preparation of list of beneficiaries in the village

VI     People declare their intention to participate in JFPM in the presence of RFO

VII    The member Secretary (Forester) collects the membership fee and registers people as members.

VIII   Inclusion of nominated members

IX     Registration of VFC

X      General body elects the President qf VFC

XI     The management committee is elected in presence of Revenue Inspector

XII    Dissolution of promoters committee.

In practice it may be difficult to follow all these stages. but there should be a genuine attempt to convey the message to village people. In order to understand people perception we conducted studies in 25 VFCs in Various forest divisions of Uttara Kannada.

3.2             People’s participation

The initial meeting of KFD officials with villagers is very crucial. It is through these meetings the officials get an opportunity to establish rapport with people formation of VFC. In fourteen, villages only one visit was made before formation of VFC. In one village (Bellankeri-Sirsi) they visited four times. In another village they visited the village 9 times. This is the first village Where VFC was formed in Karnataka (Talagadde). This is the reality at village level wherein the idea of JFPM and VFC is trusted upon people in a short span of one or two meetings. However, the KFD claims “Even with separate Deputy Conservator of Forests provided to each division exclusively for JFPM activity in Uttara Kannada Circle, it has been found by experience that it has taken them not less than visits to each village to form a VFC” (JFPM NEWSLETTER). This is hollow claim and an attempt to spread a deliberate lieThe only visits by KFD officials is an attempt to implement top down model JFPM. They give the idea that a new forestry programme has come and they have to involve villagers. And they want a committee villagers. In many villages KFD officials said “We have to carry out our plan”. The meetings turned out to be a one way process in which KFD explained to people about JFPM. The emphasis was that people will get commercial and monetary benefit and so they should become members of VFC. At no point of time the KFD officials explained the idea of management of forest resources. Instead, they said that the KFD will establish the plantations which has taken care by people, for first three years the department will  take care  and after that the VFC has to manage  the plantation. In many villages VFCs were formed after the establishment of ODA Plantation. KED could have utilized this opportunity to establish a genuine relationship with forces users. However it has squandered away the opportunity.

3.2.1          Another indicator for assessing participation of people in VFC is to look at the number of people present during the meeting when actual VFC is formed. Out of 25 villages only in 4 villages more than 500% of the population participated in this meeting. Out of this in one village (Gobral) they were forced to attend the meeting. In remaining 21 villages the percentage of people who attended the meeting is between 10 to 30 percent.This figures indicate the poor response of villagers towards VFC. Even when people attend these meeting there is rarely any opportunity to ‘participate’ actively because the people are passive participants. They have to hear what KFD officials say.

3.3              In these meetings participation of women is negligible. Only in three villages more than 20 ~ women attended the meeting. But in all other villages less than 10 women attended the meeting. Even where they attended the meeting they did not participate actively, in the process of formation of VFC. Thus, their participation was passive. In many cases where women are the main forest user group (like Halakki women) has been left out of the JFPM process and their involvement in VFC. In many VFCs the women members were nominated for managing committee to meet the legal requirement.

IV        THE IMPACT

4.0       The largest foreign funded programme, when implemented in on small area is likely to create impact at micro and macro level. We have already attempted to see how it has helped or not helped in bring an institutional change in KFD. Similarly we will try to assess the impact of WGFP on the lives of common village people where VFCs are formed and also on livestock and ecology of the area vis-avis JFPM’ plantations.

4.1             ON PEOPLE

In the caste ridden rural village structure the JFPM process, attempted without seriousness has not elicited any response from village people. ‘However it has definitely created fear among groups who were using the JFPM area. Many people were using it for various purposes, now with the new ODA project the people see that the possibility of taking away this area, whether it is small or large. However the people who have power in the village can definitely influence the KFD in prohibiting access to particular area selected for JFPM plantations. The people see that this programme is an extension of earlier monoculture afforestation programme. But it is anmed as JFPM. May be, to satisfy the rules, the VFCs and Management Committees are formed. But these are institutions without power. The people have gauged this authoritarian attitude of KFD and due to the fear of further alienation, they support the whole process of JFPM. People feel that the impact is further restriction of access to forest resources and possible 3.lienCition of people from forest. The barbed wire and the trench around the plantations is further evidence of such alienation process through JFPM. There is another possibility of village loosing faith on the rehotoric of  ‘peoples participation’ in management of natural resources. It leads to demoralising  peoples initiatives in the long run.

4.2             On  Livestock

Livestock keeping is one of subsidiary occupation of people in Uttara Kannada. It is kept as draught and milch animal. It is an important link in the agricultural system, providing inputs (Farm Yard Manure) to grow crops. The livestock population has increased in recent years. However there is shortage of fodder, forcing import of fodder. The access of grazing land to poorest, people is an important resource. Formerly the availability of fodder was high in natural forest regions. But the gradual conversion of natural forests into monoculture (teak) plantations has reduced the availability of fodder. Similarly the spread of exotic weeds like eupatorium has hindered the growth of grass. In the wake of afforestation drive, the  enthuastic KFD has raised plantations on every open area in this district. Now with ODA project, they have further identified the ‘last resort’ of grazing areas left in the villages. Due to this, many villagers have initially expressed their apprehension over the ODA project. They were not willing to loose the limited grazing area. Out of 25 villages studied, in all the vil.1ages the people said that the area was being used as grazing land. Obviously, the ceasing of the grazing land puts extra burden on people to search for alternate areas/sources of fodder. The well off farmer has the purchasing power to purchase fodder from distant places. But a small farmer and landless labour is not in a position to pay towards the cost of fodder. Thus the project has made it difficult to keep the livestock by poorest groups. Especially the Gouli tribes are the major group who will be affected by the JFPM. Though the KFD has plans to establish fodder plantations it is impractical to expect fodder production on a large scale to stall feed the livestock.

KFD has assured that people can harvest fodder after the rainy season. In reality it is true that the availability may increase in the short run due to cordoning of the area. But after 3 years when the monoculture spicies (of acacia or teak) grow, they will not allow grass to grow underneath. Thus in the long run availability of fodder will get reduced, affecting the poorest groups an;l women.

4.3             On Ecology

Though it is too early to assess the impact of JFPM plantations on the ecology of the area, we may be able to look at the probable direction. As discussed above (5.20) the impact of shortage of fodder for livestock keeping will definitely force people to look for other regions where they can grow grass. At the present stage, the available open grass growing area is taken away for various afforestation programmes including ODA WGFP. Thus the people have to create opening in the thick forest regions to grow grass. The stress on available land for growing grass/fodder will shift to forest regions. This will “create additional pressure on the fragile ecosystems of western ghats.

V         VFC’s ANALYSIS

5.1               General

In order to understand the functioning of VFCs at indepth level we conducted study of five VFCs. We attempted to look at the socio economic situation and the expectation of people. We also tried to assess the strength and weakness of VFC and its link to the JFPM plantations. what is the opinion of people regarding VFC? Is it possible for VFCs to get control over forest resources? What are the needs of people. Do they any alternative to forest management?

5.2               Keravalli

This represents the typical village situation of the coastal region. Situated on the banks of Sharavati, it has mixed caste groups. The land holding is very meagre ranging from 5 cents to 2 acres. The people have attained self sufficiency in food due to establishment of lift irrigation scheme, costing Rs. 1.2 lakhs. This is entirely managed by people. The ODA plantations was thrust upon the villagers. The people were not consulted before identifying the plantation area. The KFD wanted to install its own person as Chairman of VFC. But by coincidence the present Chairman got the opportunity. The VFC and Managing committee is homogenious in tackling the issues. They are the ones who did not sign the minutes on dotted lines. The MC passed resolutions to get cashew trees from Cashew Plantation. VFC has mature leadership and aware of their rights and duties. The weakness of VFC; it could not pressurise KFD to plant spicies that was demanded by people, it did not bring in the real biomass needs (dry leaves etc) in to VFC discussion, and did not demand the costs incurred by KFD to establish the plantation.  The people feel that VFC is not in a position to get control over management of forest resources. The KFD has in fact taken away the land encroached by Poorest groups to plant ODA plantations. The KFD used divide and rule policy by supporting other group, who were not encroachers. Thus, the mutual trust was destroyed. The KFD should have looked into the collective lift irrigation scheme to see how the same could be used for JFPM/VFC activities. Thus, it has ignored the existinance of a village institution to manage water resources. The presence of NGO has in no away helped the VFC/JFPM process due to lack of interest by NGO.

5.3               Gublegadde

Through it is Honnavar division, this village is situated in midst of thick evergreen forest. In fact the area should come under Zone I (Core Zone}. However. there are open grass lands in midst of these forests. The ODA plantations are done on this grass land. People have lost their main grazing areas. The economically better off section was able to influence KFD and leave some areas for grazing. The migration of cattle by Marathi people to this region will be severly affected. The people raised adjection to the VFC/ ODA plantations. However using threat and luring SOYo share forced them to agree to form VFC. The strength of VFC is that they forced KFD to reduce the density of acacia saplings to be planted in the area. They also forced the KFD to plant some indegenious spices. The VFC leadership is gone into the hands of powerful Havyak Community. The trend is to support ODA in order to live in coexistence because they have to work with KFD everyday because they live in midst of forests.

5.4                This is the first village in which kFD inaugurated the VFC in the state. A typical coasted region with enormous    population pressure and headload of fuel wood brought by women to earn living. The KFD established VFC by Promising alternative jobs to these women and also to hand over cashew plantations. Once the VFC was established the plantations were established without consulting people. Thus, all the efforts of KFD, iniating PRA etc., was a failure. The KFD has failed to keep the promise and people are suspicious about KFD. Even VFC Chairman doubts the intention of KFD. Thus the first VFC of Karnataka is already on the road of railure.

5.5               Hitlahalli

This is in midst of hill of western ghat. The VFC was formed after plantirlg acacia and,teak saplings. The Chairman of VFC is, from dominant high caste. The people using the forest resources are not part of VFC process. The plantation has severly affected the landless labourers, stopping access to forest resources. And also closure of foot path in the plantation area. The plantations have been established without consulting people and they have not developed any stake in the ‘forest’. The VFC is a token body to appease rich people in the village. The possibilities of natural regeneration in the village is better.

5.6               Malvadi

This is one village where in we see a positive trend in peoples participation. Though it is on the edge of Western Ghats, the encroachment problem is not there. The people are not dependent on forests for dry leaves or green leaves. They use forests for fuel wood, timber and grazing. Historically this village has cordial relationship with KFD. The people voluntarily work for one day in a year for KFD X since many years. This act or has played an important role in the success of KFDs attempt an important role in the success of KFDs attempt to establish VFC. The PRA, and micro plans are remembered as events of drawing maps and people feel that it was done for the requirement KFD. There is no need for plantation because of excellent regeneration possibility. However this has not been given due consideration. The VFC has specifically asked for local spicies to be planted. The people are already in the process of loosing confidence on the false promise of KFD. The KFD promised to hand over the bamboo plantation to VFC. But it has not been done. Thus there is a lot of suspicion among people on the intentions KFD. Ironically the best village where VFC is strong is being e defunct due to the apathy of KFD.

VI        WESTERN GHATS: REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE

6.0       The WGFP is implemented in Uttara Kannada  district on a uniform pattern. However the district is not a homogenious unit and the different regions has diverse cultural, ecological and economic differences. In order to understand how the intervention of ODA has helped to accelerate the process of forest conservation, we are attempting to look at these regional differences.

Broadly the district can be divided into 5 categories, based on ecological differences. The hill regions with forests (Sirsi- siddapur); the coastal region with heavy population, the coastal ghats with less population. The fourth is the plains of Haliyal and fifth is the forest region of Joida with least population pressure.

We are attempting to look at these regional differences to understand the pressure on population and how WGFP is implemented. This provides the background reality to the implementation of WGFP.

 6.1      GHATS:HILL REGION (Sirsi-Siddapur-Yellaupur Areas)

I Geographical Situation

This region consists of hills and thick forests. It has both evergreen and decidious forests. The natural forest is clearfelled to make way for teak plantations. The ~perennial streams are common. Tanks and ponds are common to harvest rainwater.

The encroachment problem is very common due to in high population pressure.

Villages are scattered, school, education facility is high.  Dependency on forest is very high.

II     Population:

Population is sparse in the village. Higher education has helped people to migrate in search of employment, thus reducing the Population pressure on land.

Ethnic groups:

Havyak Brahmins dominate in ghat region. Lingayats are found on he edge of ghats. Harijans, Siddis, Marathas are dependent on orests. Vokkalighas (Kari and Gamma) are also founa as forest wellers. Muslims and Christians are mainly found in towns.

II.    Land + Income

Paddy and arecanut is the main crop. The land is very fertile due to bountiful natural resources. Due to the cash crop affluence farmers have installed irrigation units on their farm.

This region is the economic centre of the district. The cash income from areca nut has helped to attain prosperity. There is shortage of labour and the wages are well above the state minimum wages.

Cattle population is high. Fodder shortage is acute. Fodder is imported from other plain regions. There are established dairy collecting milk. Livestock keeping is a subsidiary occupation.

IV    Dependency on  Forest:

–     Very high; dry and green leaves are collected on a large scale for composting.

–     Fuel wood availability is gradually becoming problem near urban areas.

–     Fuelwood sale near towns are common.

–     MEP collection in forest regions mainly Uppage, Ramapathre etc., provides cash income to poorest groups.

–     KFD employees people for plantation work. On an average men get Rs. 25-30 and women gets 15-20 per day.

V.    ODA Plantation:

–     There is very little open space left for plantations.

–     Possibilities of natural regeneration is excellent in this region.

–     Smuggling is common and it is done in collusion of KFD officials.

–     ODA plantations are established near agriculture land and even on encroached land.

Dependency on plantation~

–     Grazing land

–     Poorest groups growing food crops (encroachment)

VI.   Impact:

–     The people have initially objected to taking away grazing land.

–     Pressure on forests may increase

–     Goulis and Siddis may be affected most as loss of grazing land will effect them adversely.

VII   JFPM / Participation

–     Chairman: Are politically aware with good ‘connection’ with KFD.  Lingayat, Havyak, Namadhari are the Chairman for VFC. Participation of women is through nomination. They are not actively involved.

–     People do not feel that they have stake in the ODA forest. The monetary benefit is the only attraction to join VFC.

–     The pressure on forests for expanding agriculture and to fetch other biomass needs very high.

6.2      COASTAL REGION

I.          GEOGRAPHICAL SITUATION

The coastal area has hills and valleys adjacent to coast. The habitation starts from seashore. The NH-17 passes near the coast. The houses are near the valley. These small hills are barren without any big trees. There are throny shrubs and plants. In recent years acacia plantations have been established on these hills. There are also cashew plantation in this region. No big trees (Natural) are seen.

There are no forests near village. Near the ghats forests starts, which are getting denuded. Ample streams (perennial) are flowing. There are big river like sharavati and Chandavar etc. Backwater problem exists in coastal area.

Road connection is good, even in interior areas.

II.    POPULATION:

Thick population everywhere. Wherever land can be cultivated, People have settled. Concentration of population adjacent to Highway. Dugwells are common. Drinking water is available in plenty. Education and literacy is good.

Cultural Groups: All major communities from Fisherman to Halakki, Vokkals, Naik, Gam Okkal (Patagars), Nama Naik, Gam Okkal (Patagars), Namadhari Naik, Harijans, Jer, Ambigas, Muslim and Christian Population.

Land + Income:

Small very small and holdings is a common phenomenon. They eke out a difficult living. Economically well of communities are Nayakas, Havikas, Muslim, Navats, namadhari Naik, Patagars etc. Poorest groups are Halakki and some percent of Gam Vokkals. Ambigs are poorest group.

Income: Low income groups are more. They earn from coconut etc. They grow paddy (two crops), groundnut (Rabi crop), areca and coconut etc. Irrigation pump sets are used extensively.

Cattle Population is there but it is kept only for drought animal. They sell milk on a small scale. Milk is used.

IV        Dependency on Forest:

–     There is no forest nearby, they have to walk 3-4 kms to get fuel wood.

–     Heavy pressure (on Chandavar betta) on forest.

–     Fuel wood, smuggling, darku and soppu is collected.

–     Nearby forests are destroyed, the forests near ghats is gradually.

–     Getting decimated. KFD and people are regularly in conflict due to high dependency.

–     Encroachment on forest land for growing groundnut.

MFP collection- Murual etc. No MFP available due to deforestation KFD is major employer for plantation of acacia. ‘Wages for labour men ( 20) and women ( 15 ).

V.        ODA Plantation —

Established near the village. The main objective is to stop encroachment. Plantation is very essential. But people feel that this ODA plantation is not good. Gradually people are using acacia leaves wood etc.

Dependancy:

–     Grazing

–     Encroachment / Fodder / Cashew / Peanut.

–     Ground leaves/ green leaves on a small scale.

Impact :

–     The main problem is that of cattle grazing.  There are no lands for grazing.

–     Due to encroachment problem where is clash with KFD.

Women: Fuel wood is difficult to get

Poorest groups: There are people who have done encroachment on ODA plantation area (Manki). They are affected/evacuated for ODA plantation (Manki).

Cattle: Grazing is a problem they have to go longer distance. Stall feeding may be essential. But alternative fodder source is not there.

VII. Participatory Ideas

JFPM Chairman: Links with KFD and political parties is common. Usually the economically well off person is the Chairman of VFC.

Women Members : Havyak, Naik or economically stronger groups do participate. On an average women participation is not there. Women members are aware but Halakki women are not aware.

JFPM: After formation the people have taken interest. Due to encroachment KFD and people are going in opposite direction. People are cutting KFD acacia plantation. Conflict with KFD is acute. Monetary benefit is the main reason for joining JFPM.

In general people are not interested in loosing grazing land. However they have agreed to help due to awareness. The people are suspicious smuggling is supported by KFD. So people think that KFD can not keep/protect the remaining natural forests. OOA plantation is not unique.

Cashew plantation is found on large scale in coastal area which belongs to Cashew corporation. Cashew Corporation is a separate wing. The TW and  KFD has given false promise of giving cashew sales of JEPM. These false promises has led of disruption of relationship with KFD as it has not kept up the promise.

Fuel wood and women dependency on fuel wood collection is a major problem.

6.3             COASTAL GHATS: (FOREST EXITS)

I. Geographical Situation

Near village thick forest exists. Hills and Valleys is common. Different type of natural plants are found. Streams are plenty. Road situation is not very good. Higher Education facility is not there.

II. Population:

Compared to coast the population is less. But in village there is concentration of population. Migration of people from coastal area is also there.

Cultural groups:

Gouderu ( Konkani ), Gouli ( Marathi), G. S. B.  Havyaka.

III.  Land + Income

Arecanut plantations on small scale. Paddy is the main crop. In some areas two crops are grown.

Income : is comparatively good. Small land owners are in majority.  About 10% are landlords  owning arecanut plantation 3-4 acre ( G.S.B., Naik etc., ).

Cattle population is equal to human population. Milk is for Consumption.

IV        Dependency :

–     Fuel wood, soppu, darku, available in plenty. But there is pressure from outside, from coastal region- 8 – lO kms they come to their forests (Bhatkal to Kodlamakki).

MEP- Contractors, Vatekai, Analekai, Cashew.

KFD nurseries (Kuntwani-50 People).

V         ODA Plantation –

Is not essential. The need is to protect the existing forests. muggling over dependency of coastal area, they take soppu on cycle, tractor and cartload etc. So heavy pressure on forests.

Dependency – ODA

–     Grazing land

–     Encroachment (for fodder)

VI.       Impact

Grazing pressure on natural forests for growing fodder.

Women – Nil

Poorest groups – Nil

VII.      Participation – JFPM

Chairman are political leaders, they are well off people not using forest resources. Political party link is obvious.

Women participation is not there. JFPM is good but they do not feel that they have stake.

Monitory benefit is the main attraction to join JFPM.

Land encroachment is not as severe as in coastal area. People are not rough-fighting nature.

6.4              THE PLAINS (HALIYAL)

I. Geographical Situation

It is plain area and hills are rare. There are no thick forest area like Joida. The forest is decidious forest, but it is less~ There are plantation of teak and eucalyptus. Now eucalyptus trees are cut. Streams are found, but it has less water in the summer. Large number of tanks are common in this area.

Encroachment problem is very common in Haliyal taluka.

Mud roads are common, villagers are closer. School facilities exist and literacy is common, Kannada speaking population. Near the villages forests is destroyed, Siddis are agriculturalists. They do not depend on forests.

II. Population

Thick population compared to Joida. Clustering of village is common. Old people are just functionally literate. But the younger generation is involved in higher education (below 10%). KFD has employed people as watchman but they gre temporary.

 

Ethinic group

Marathas dominate in the population and equally Goulis are also found. Lingayats (more) Harijans, Siddis, Koravaru (Bamboo weavers – Mundwad has a cology).  Siddis( Muslim and Christian ) Muslim and Christian.

III. Land + Income

Paddy is the main crop (kharif). Compared to Joida land is fertile. Paddy yield is good. In some areas lift irrigation has helped to grow two crops of paddy (on small scale).

Ground nut, lentils, sugarcane and onion is grown in rcibi season. Economic situation is better in comparison to Joida due to fertility of land. Migration to Goa is less. Landless families are about 10%. But they work as agricultural labour. Migration of labourers to Haliyal, Karwar and Belgum, Londa etc.

Cattle population is almost equal to human population. Livestock keeping, growing fodder is common. Milk is used for consumption.

IV. Dependency on Forests

–     Dry leaves are used for composting, but it is not very common.

–     Fuel wood availability is not easy because of pressure of population on forests.

–     Fuel wood for sale is not there.

MFP Collection – sheegekai, Allekai and small quantity of honey is also collected. Contractors collect the MFP. MFP collection does not provide any major employment opportunities.

v. ODA Plantation:

Compared to Joida, ODA plantation is essential, because forest is denueded by people in a reckless manner. So forest is disappearing faster.

Possibilities of natural regeneration is high because soil and root stock is intact.

Smuggling of timber (teakwood) is high. People say the smugglers are from different village, but people feel that KFD knows about it, KFD supports them.

ODA plantation is near the village (fields) to stop encroachment on forest land.

Dependency on ODA plantation area

It was grazing land, to grow grass as fodder. About 900% of land is grazing land. In some areas farmers encroached forest land to grow qroundnut and lentils.

VI Impact

–     In general people in Haliyal have objected to ODA plantation due to the fea~ of loosing land.

–     Pressure on forest land may increase.

Women: No dependency, but there was no wood available in the ODA  area. They cut green trees for fuel   wood.

– Goulis/Sidjis: Goulis may be affected due to loosing of grazing   land. Goulis are dependent on agriculture land than animal husbandary. If they do  not have land, they migrate to other areas.

VII. Participation / JFPM

Chairman: Usually those who have links with KFD. They are politically aware. Politically aware people are Chairman. One Siddi Chairman (Dodkoppa) of VFC. Lingayat, Upper Caste people are holding VFC Chairman’s post.

Women Members: They have attended but they are nominated for the VFC. Women participation is less.

People have opposed the JFPM, but now they have become members, but they do not feel have ‘Stake’ in the forests. The people have accepted the JFPM because of the lure of monetary benefits.

The village people are rough and they want to extend the land for agriculture. The tendency to fight for getting agriculture land is more common. Due to heavy population forest is destroyed for house building~ to meet human needs. The pressure on forests is heavy in comparison to Joida. In Haliyal every plantation has a ,watchman. If we do not intervene at this stage, the deforestation may accelerate and lead to a situation like coastal areas.

People have the mentality of using/cutting trees, rather than planting. They do not feel that forest is theirs. Awareness regarding deforestation is required.

6.5              THE PLAINS (JOIDA)

I. Geographical

Hills are rare, it is a plain area adjacent to thick forests. .MarasangalJ Paiswadi etc., does not have hills or valley. In the forest area- there are huge plantations in Joida taluka-(Chandwadi Jugalbet etc). Miscellaneous trees and concentration of teak (maximum plantation). Recently acacia plantations also have been established.

Near the village there is excellent forest. Streams flow in rainy season. But in dry months, there is extreme shortage of drinking water. Perennial streams are rare (except Gobral).

Villages do not have tar road. Main roads KPC roads are good. Railway line near Marasangal (Belgum-Goa Road).

II. Population

Thin concentration of population. The villages are scattered and very thin population. Education facilities after 4th standard is very scarce. Education/higher education possibilities are very less.

Cultural groups:

Marathi speaking Konkan Marathas are in majority in this area. They do not understand Kannada. In some area Gouli communities are found (Paiswadi Jalkatte). Kunabi families are also found in minority.

II.                                      Land + Income

Paddy cultivation  is the only occupation  The  land holding is marginal but the income is very less. The soil fertility is very less. The dry land is more and the crop is raineed. Thus the income is low. Landless people are less, but both landed people migrate to Goa for work. Paddy is the only crop grown. Irrigation facilities are less. Lot of problem due to wild animals destroying crops. Cattle population is less than human population. They are decimated due to disease. People do not use milk.

IV        Dependency on forest

Fuel wood  easily available due to forests. In Joida taluka they do not use green leaves or dry leaves (Timbolli- they use dry leaves).

MFP    – Sheegekai, Allekai is available. KFD- Gives on contact to contractors. These contractors approach villagers to collect MFP. On an average people get employment for 20-25 days to some families}. On an average they earn Rs. 40/- per day.

They are also employed by KFD and PWD. KFD gives nursery,

Plantation work. Women get Rs. 15/-. Men get Rs. 25/- per day. KFD is the major employed in this area (women get work in KFD}.

V. ODA Plantation

Looking at the forest cover, which may be about sixty percent canopy cover, plantation is necessary. Natural regeneration is good. Smuggling activities are rare, deforestation is done by KFD. Under such circumstances ODA plantation is not necessary.

Dependency (ON ODA Plantation)

Most areas of ODA plantation is near villages (Paiswasdi etc). for growing ‘Karada’ Grass. Fuel wood was also brought from this area.

VI. Impact:

Total impact on People: Monetary benefit is attraction to join JFPM. People are worried about the loosing of grazing land. This is likely to create pressure on natural forests because its natural forest grass/fodder is not available (Vaine people are opposing the scheme due to this).

Women: Women dependency on forest is very less. However, they get work of forest department. ‘Nomen do not go to forest for collection of MFP.

Poorest groups: Goulis etc.

(Paiswadi)- Goulis face shortage of availability of fodder. In a village the economic situation is generally poor. Thus everyone is affected.

Cattle: There are no veternary facilities in the village. Wild animals attack on cattle is also a problem {eg. Vaine) in some village.

VII       Participation/JFPM

JFPM Chairman is mostly opinion leaders. No one is working in forests. They are mostly petty political leaders having little awareness. All of them have good links with forest officials.

Women members are mostly nominated. The participation in JFPM is negligible. Women are unaware of the JFPM.

The people have not actually taken any interest in JFPM. They are afraid of FD as they depend on them for livelyhood. So when KFD said to form VFC’S. People accepted it. Formation Of VFC was done during first meeting. They have paid membership fees. Overall, peoples participation is not there. People work as wage earners. It is one sided programme.

The people do not feel that JFPM is a unique/special programme. There is no watchman for plantation. There is no need be cause people do not destroy trees. People use trees for small timber, lead a simple life. They are not involved in smuggling activities. Encroachment problem is very rare in Joida taluka. Still, the KFD has attempted to establish plantations destroying dependency of people on forests. It is surprising that KFD has chosen the village grazing land for ODA plantation.

VII       SPONTANEOUS FOREST MANAGEMENT BY PEOPLE

Though the state government is making serious attempts to form VFC’s in villages, their efforts have not brought positive results. The village people suspect the real motive of the forest department. The previous backlong of negative experience has had its impact on he present programme. Though the concept of JFPM is good, it1s mplementdtion has ruined the process of bridgining the widening gap. Nevertheless, there are various attempts by people to manage the forests spontaneously. We are presenting two case studies wherein people have been managing the forests for almost five decades. Surprisingly, no government department is involved in running these institutions. These spontaneous efforts are ignored y the departments. In fact they provide a rich experience to initiate a true process of peoples management of forest resources.

7.2              CASE STUDY

HALKAR  VILLAGE FOREST PANCHAYAT, KUMTA TALUK;c UTTARA KANNADA

Introduction: —

Recent studies by ecologists have brought to the light many instances of successful natural resource management by traditional societies from different parts of the world. Such management systems have acquired greater significance today as modern science ~d newer systems of resource management purportedly based on it have failed to deliver the goods and have brought our natural environment perilously close to the brink of a disaster. Especially in the developing countries this situation has, through disruption of many  ecosystems undermined  the livelihoods  of many millions of people. Thanks to a global awakening  on the magnitude of this proble and   the studies which ensued it a strong plea has been made by the concerned persons that the local communities with

their traditional knowledge of the management of natural environment should be given greater participation in resource management. The concept of Joint Forest Planning and Management which is getting implemented in our country is the outcome of such an alternative thinking. As traditional knowledge pertaining to this is largely forgotten or lost in ill-written pieces of history we are on the lookout for concrete instances of successful forest management by village communities. In this paper 3 is briefly outlined a study on a live example of forest management by village community as existing in the Halkar village of Kumta taluk in Uttara Kannada. Before embarking upon such a venture anew we have many points for serious consideration as the Halkar Village Forest Panchayat would tell us.

Historical Background

Considerable evidence has accumulated to show us that during the pre-British period there existed autonomy among the village communities of India as regards the management of forest resources within their respective territories was concerned. In the hilly and forest clad district of Uttara Kannada the pre-British landscape was basically managed by the village communities. It seems every village used to have a substantial portion of land under a rather primeval kind of forest called kan where tree cutting was a taboo, Such kan often protected the watershed,  regulated the local climate, supplied a variety of non – wood produce  forest  and grouping of the village  for enjoyment  of privileges in theforests. The minor forests were to be brought  under the Revenue Department as they were unproductive and policing them would be a burden on the part of the Forest Department.

At the same time it came to the notice of the Forest Settlement officer G.F.S. Collins that several villages along Uttara Kannada coast hade some wooded portions within their limits which the villagers had been carefully guarding. Extension of minor forests into these patches could result in their decimation. Therefore Collins proposed that as per the provisions of the Indian Forest Act of 1878 the system of village forest panchayat be introduced in coastal Uttara Kannada. Collins mentioned. about the communal woodlots or ‘hadis’ of Bhatkal and the forest patches of several villages of Kumta, Honnavar and Ankola taluks where some kind of community management prevailed. Mention may be made of Vanalli, Holan§adde, Halkar, Chitrigi, Gonehalli, Hichkad, Shetgiri etc. Some villages had already unofficial committees to look after their forests, and appointed watchmen (rakhawalders) to prevent abuses such as the cutting of the soppu at the wrong time and keep awayoutsiders. In his correspondence of 25th August 1922 Collins observed that “The Halkar Committee is at present flourishing”. He also a copy of the latest rules of its Committee.

The Government of Bombay, vide Resolution NO.7212 of 24th July 1923 approved Collin’s report on the minor forests of Uttara Kannada coast including information of village forests in selected areas. Model rules were also framed for the management of village forests. Mamlatdars of Honnavar, Kumta and Ankola and Mahalkari of Bhatkal were empowered to deal with offences under section 67  and often function as  scared places being regarded the abode of gods.  A second  land scape unit would be the Kadu or Adavi which is an ordinary forest from  where  the community  gathered  their  timber, fuel, leafmanure and other major biomass. Much of the hilly and highlands were treated as Hakkalu or  Kumri meaning shifting cultivation areas, which also must have provided during the fallo’ period some biomass and fodder. In addition were the regular field orchards and bena or gnazing lands. The landscape heterogenity under such a management would be considerable. No wonder, Uttara Kannada was a haven for both plant and animal life.

The British occupation of Uttara Kannada changed this scenario drastically. The state consolidated its hold over all kinds of forests and common lands towards the latter part of 19th century. Shifting cultivation was prohibited almost totally. Nevertheless considering toe intimate relationships between man, agriculture a forests in this district the British were rather compelled to grant certain privileges to the people in certain kinds of forests administratively treated as ‘minor forest’. Most of these minor forests were either already barren areas or at the best were scrub jungles or savanna woodland. These being close to villages and towns were subjected to unregulated exploitation the main reason being such forests turning into common property resources with virtually open access. The village community management collapse, almost totally. There was, in the early 20th century, aloud cry for ‘soppu’ or leaf manure from the farmers who hacked upon any kind of greenery within their reach. In view of such a deterioration of forests, particularly along the sea coast village of Uttara Kannada there was a proposal for extension of the minor of the Indian forest act. However they are not  to exercise  the powers except  on the recommendation of  the panchayat ( The model rules are given in the appendix – 1).

A list of village forests officially formed thereafter in Kumta Range is given below:

1. Chitrigi         : 104 acres                   7. Alvalli : 315 acres

2. Harodi                    : 155 acres                   8. Halkar  : 219 acres

3. Holanagadde : 261 acres                   9. Muroor : 1267 acres

4. Kalkeri         : 870 acres                   10.Kallabbe:1030 acres

5. Vanalli          : 135 acres                   11. Hosad : 136 acres

6. Valgalli         : 239 acres

Halkar Forest Panchayat

The Halkar Village Forest Panchayat formally came into existence around 1930. The total area of forest is about 219 acres and the total area of the village is about 500 acres. There are 159 households and a population ~f about 360 people. The Panchayct has a total of nine elected members. Each property-holder of the village has one vote. As per the rules the elections should be held once in three years. There is provision for representing a cross section of the castes of the village in the Panchayat.

There is no provision for electing any absentee landlord to the Panchayat. The caste compositions of the present body is as  follows

Havik Brahmin             : 1

Gunaga                      : 2

Patgar                        : 2

Mukri                         : 1

Madiwal                     : 1

Harikantra                   : 2

—–

Total         9

One of the member is elected  as the Chariman, one as  Voce chairman and one as secretary . The election  is conducted in the presence of the Tahasildar and the Village Accountant. There were bad times when the elections were not conducted as per schedule. For instance after a period of over 15 years  election was held in the year 1975. This body continued for ten years upto 1975. The general body of voters meet once a year to discuss matters pertaining to the forest. The Panchayat meets once in a month.

Forest Protection

It is remarkable that the people of Halkar in general feel that the forest is to be used srupulously and conduct themselves with a deep sense of responsibility and commitment. Nevertheless the Panchayat appoints one person as watchman. In the earlier times the watchman used to be paid in the form of grains by each household. Recently the Panchayat itself makes a cash payment. The payment used to be Rs. 300 a month till recently. During this year two watchmen have been appointed and the payment has been hiked to Rs. 650 for each. The watchmen guard the forest from outsiders as well as check the villagers from unregulated exploitation. The offenders are brought to the notice of the Panchayat and their weapons like knife, axe or pole are confiscated. These are released only on the payment of a fine. Unless the fine is paid a resident offender is not allowed to collect any material from the forest. The system is working successfully.

Regulations on forest  Use.

There are several restrictions on biomass gathering from the forest which the villagers are very familiar with. Though there has been no improvement in the forest as such these regulations have limited the uses to sustainable limits. The regulations are also highly socialistic benefiting all sections of the society. Every householder on payment of Rs. 10 is given a permit which makes him eligible to gather the biomass for one year. He can get addition permits on additional payment.

Fuel wood collection: A permit holder or his representative may make one trip a day to collect the dry branches of trees for fuel. The he has to break by hand and should not use a knife or pole or axe. This guarantees that only small twigs are broken off from the trees and that too the dead ones. Needless to say that richer sections of society would not indulge in such exercises. A person may make two visits to the forest to collect fuel provided he has two permits. There is no bar on sale of fuel gathered in this fashion within the village itself. But the sale of fuel from the forest outside the village is strictly prohibited and the offenders are fined.

Once a year all the dead trees of the forest areauctioned to the residents. If an householder bids for one tree he is not eligible for a second one. This also is aimed at more equitable distribution of forest biomass. Again no one is allowed to sell the tree thus purchased outside the village. Live trees are never auctioned this way. The recent construction of the Konkan Railway track through the Halkar forest has destabilized the forests to a great extent. The villagers however objected to clearance of the vegetation by  bulldozer.  On the contrary Panchayat made   arrangement for hand cutting of the trees by the workers of the village and payment of wages to them. This has minimised the damage to the vegetation. The accumulated food gathered thus was sold to the villagers at a nominal price of Rs. 12 a quintal.

Leaf Manure Collection: The people are permitted to collect only fallen leaves for the manure purpose. This is normally done during’ the dry months. The permit system is valid here too.

Nonwood ProsuceThe forest has very limited production of nonwood produce like the fruits of Murugila (Garcinia Indica), Mango, cashew and the flowers of Suqugi (Ochrocarpus longifolius) .The Panchayat obtains a minorincome through the annual auctioning of these produce. The rights to gather them is given only to the residents of the village. This generates some amount of employment too. The forest is somewhat rich in wild fruits like Neerilu (Syzygium cumini). Anyone is free to gather such fruits.

Cattle Grazing: The Halkar forest is a combination of open patches and islands of woods, the former provide poor forage for the cattle. There is no restriction on cattle grazing in the forest even by outsiders.

Hunting: The villagers of Halkar, a village close to the town of Kumta, do not indulge in hunting. The main reason seems to be the absence of any major wildlife in the forest. The fauna include black-naped hare, peafowl, jackal, hyena, jungle cate, various birds and reptiles. However the villagers do not prevent subsistence hunting by the neighbouring people of particularly the Halakki Vokkal community who have a strong tradition of hunting which is reduced to mere ritual  these days.

Laterite Quarying

Apart from the forest utilization , as narrated above  the villagers are not knowledgeable about forest succession, forest restoration and other ecological, :aspects. This has resulted in very limited from the forest which is hardly sufficient to meet the running expenses of the Forest Panchayat including the salaries for the watchmen. Major income to the Forest Panchayat, regrettably, is from the quarrying of laterite stones within the forest. The re construction boom has created enormous demand for laterite stone Each truckload of stones (200 nos). earns a royalty of Rs. 150. The annual income from the stones has come as a great boon to the Panchayat, (which is estimated around Rs. 50,000 a year) .This income has enabled the Panchayat to appoint an additional watchm as well as hike the payment to each watchman from Rs. 300 to Rs. 650 a month. The Secretary of the Panchayat is also being paid Rs. 600 a month (it used to be only Rs. 100 a month). The sitting fee for the members is Rs. 10 per meeting. Anyway, in the long run , repeated quarrying within the forest would leave behind irrepairable gorges.

State of The Forest –

The forest has been in the state of a woodland savanna according to the memory of the village community. Clumps of trees and bushes are separated by open grassy blanks. The trees are of low stature, seldom exceeding 10m if at all. Basal area per hectare is only 4m2 although the land has the potential of supporting 30-40m2 per hectare. The ground vegetation too is not much diverse or rich in biomass. The trees belonging to the  light loving evergreens  and deciduous  types.  Mention may be made of  Syzygium cumini, S. S. Corymbosa, Mimusops elengi, Ochrocarpus longifolius, Carallia, brachiata, Terminalia paniculate, careya arborea etc, sparingly  are found Mangifera indica, Garcinia indica, Anacardium occidentale, Diospyros embryopteris, Buchanania lanzan and olea dioica. The tree  density  is about 100 per hectare. Indeed 350 to 400 would be an ideal number.

Weakness of the Panchayat

For the village community dominated by peasants, potters, fishermen, agricultural labourers and service castes the Panchayat with its democratic structure and equalitarian outlook is technically sound. Such a sound system is potentially capable of managing greater amount 0f natural resources. Halkar Panchayat is still lucky enough to have some kind of forest within its control unlike most other coastal villages of Uttara Kannada. The lack of a forest working plan may be considered as one of the major weaknesses. As no part of the . forest is closed to access people prowl everwhere in search of litte1 and deadwood. Moreover there is also unrestricted movement of large number of cattle which is a severe threat to forest regeneration not only through browsing and grazing but also trmpling. There is very little return of nutrients to the soil. The forest therefore remains almost static through decades. The Panchayat is all the time concerned about the utilization of the materials available from the forest and seldom gave any thought to the enrichment of  the forest itself.

Planting by forest department

In the recent years, under the Social Forestry Programme Department has been planting substantial portions of the’ forest with tree saplings, mainly Acacia auriculiformis and casurina.  This would boost the timber and fuel output in the immediate future. However the villagers resent that native species which have a multiplicity of uses are not being planted. They are also afraid the scanty grazing available at present is also corning to an end.

Takeover Efforts by the Government

Due to various reasons most of the Forest Panchayats of Uttara Kannada collapsed and the forests under their control got liquidate The Government of Karnataka felt that the Panchayats failed in their responsibilities. The Deputy Commissioner, Karwar in his letter dated 3rd October 1979 ordered the remaining Panchayats of Muroor, Kallabbe and Hosaa group, and Halkar to hand over all the records pertaining to the forests to the Government stating that all the Forest Panchayats were dissolved with effect from 1969, the day Karnataka Forest Act 1963 came into force. The Chairman of both these Panchayats challenged this order in the High Court of Karnataka. On 20th November 1989 the Court gave the verdict in favour of the Halkar village Forest Panchayt.

Recommendations for Improvement

1. Adoption of a working plan for the forest is very important. Small areas of forest should be closed to all forms of  exploitation for certain period, say for five to  ten yers. This will promote natural regeneration as well as enrich the soil. The species diversity also will increase. Enrichment planting with desirable species of appropriate successional status  may be carried out . Cattle should be excluded from such closed plots through fencing.

2. The planting should include as many species, including of bamboos to engage the people in a diversity of occupations as well as catering to their subsistence needs.

3. With the help of the Government or other funding agencies a special scheme may be chalked out to raise an~ supply medicinal plants on a commercial basis in a small portion of the forest.

4. There is pressing need for folder in all the coastal villages. These villages should be able to solve this problem using portions of the forest area within their limits. In Halkar a multiple species  fodder farm may be fruitfully raised mainly to cater to the needs of the village cattle.

7.3       Case Study: HUNSUR

(Sagar Taluka

Dt. Shimoga, Karnataka)

Hunsur is a living example of spontaneous forest management by people. It has one of the rich evergreen forests near the village. 11 other villages have barren hills. But in contrast to this the and scape totally .changes near Hunsur village . The age old traditional of ‘Kan’ forests or the ‘Sacred groves’ is still functioning.

Sometime in the late Sixties, timber contractors, armed with a forest Department permit, axes and saws, landed in a tiny village n Shimoga district. They hoped to cut down and cart away old trees in its thick forest. However, that hey had entered a village which had passionately protected its evergreen forests over the centuries. The villagers refused to allow the contractors into the forest. The Government was forced o cancel the permit.

That village is Hunsur.

In 1972, the Government approved a proposal to cut down 30 trees n the Hunsur forest to make boats. The villagers protested again and prevented the felling.

Two years later, a plywood company managed to get Government’s permission to fell some trees. Yet again, the villagers  fought back to save the dense forests in about 50 hectares.

Hunsur is situated at the foothills of the Sahyadri range in Malnad.  It is 12 kms from Sagar, off the Sagar-Jog road. The village has become a pilgrim centre for environmentalists who are, inspired by the fervour with which its people have protected the thick evergreen forests.

Once a thick jungle stretch, the Sagar-Jog area is slowly losing its forest wealth. Hunsur is an exception. It continues to have a forest so dense that the sun’s rays can hardly pierce it. The people who have made this miracle possible are not fashionable, foreign-funded activists. The villagers are small farmers and agricultural labourers There are 140 families in this hamlet.

The forest here was earlier called Aigala Mathada Kannu. It is now called Hunsur Kaanu. In fact, unit 1965, the village was in charge of the forest and the people were paying a tax of Rs. 14 for it. The State Government took over the forest that year.

After its attempts to make money from the forest were foiled by the people, the Government has left the Hunsur Kaanu alone. But how have the villagers managed to be so vigilant? They have a unique system of keeping watch in which all families participate.

Every family gets to keep watch over the forest by rotation. A sickle is given to the man whose turn it is to protect the forest. After his duty is over, he passes on the sickle to the next in line. If a family ‘fails to carry out its watch duty# it has to pay a penalty of Rs. 50. The system ensures that the forest is guarded constantly.

Every two years the villagers gather and form a village improvement committee. This body has nine members and a chairman. All sections and castes are represented in it. The committee is then entrusted with the responsibility of taking decisions regarding the administration of the village. Its decisions are final and are not contested.

The system is so democratic that seldom is a rule. Broken. The committee decides how the forest is to be protected. Accordingly, the villagers enter the forest only once a year to fetch fuel wood. A common date is fixed sometime around the Ganesha festival. Each family can send a man and a woman to fetch a head load of fuel wood each. If a family wishes to build a house, it approaches the committee, which then sends some people into the forest to look for dead wood. Only what is essential is taken.

While there is not restriction on gathering dry leaves from the fresh leaves for making manure is prohibited.

The villagers are free to use forest produce such as berries, aromatic tree barks, medicinal herbs and honey for their families. No outsider is allowed to step into the forest.

The Hunsur example is being held up by environmentalists as an example of how a community can effectively protect its forests. Nature lovers, scientists and teams from the World Bank. UN and other international organisations have visited the village and praised its efforts as worthy of emulation.

The Karnataka Government presented its first Environment Award(1992) to Hunsur. Inspired by Hunsur, neighbouring viilages like Alahalli, Shuntikoppa and Kugwe-Kagodu ;mave also taken up forest protection programmes. The people of Sagar and Keladi have already formed vigilance committees to protect their forests. The forest authorities are ready to help the people in such programmes, Assistant Conservator of Forests (Sagar) B. B.  Mallesh says.

This official has drawn up a plan to green a 40 acre extent of elevated land near Hunsur, where his department hopes to grow, besides trees, medicinal plants and herbs. Kelaginamane Ganapati, whO is the Chairman of the village improvement committee, also wants to develop the area as a community forest